Vitamins are a group of organic substances that are essential in small quantities as nutrients for normal metabolism of living organisms. hey are also found only in living things such as plants and animals.
With few exceptions, the body cannot manufacture or synthesize vitamins. They must be supplied by the diet or in dietary supplements. Vitamins are essential to the normal functioning of our bodies. They are necessary for growth, vitality, health, general well being, and for the prevention and cure of many health problems and diseases.
Why should I be aware of this?
A lot of people think vitamins can replace food, they cannot! In fact, vitamins cannot be assimilated without ingesting food. That is why they should be taken with a meal. Vitamins regulate metabolism, help convert fat and carbohydrates into energy, and assist in forming bone and tissue. Most healthy women who eat a well-balanced diet do not need to take vitamin supplements. Vitamin supplements are recommended for pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, those on low-calorie diets or who consume moderate amounts of alcohol, or who are taking certain kinds of medication
All about vitamins
The word vitamin is derived from the combination of words: vital amine. Vitamins are organic (carbon containing) molecules that mainly function as catalysts for reactions within the body. A catalyst is a substance that allows a chemical reaction to occur using less energy and less time than it would take under normal conditions. If these catalysts are missing, as in a vitamin deficiency, normal body functions can break down and make a person susceptible to disease.
Vitamins are required by the body in tiny amounts (hundredths of a gram in many cases). We get vitamins from three sources:
- Our own bodies - vitamin K comes from bacteria within our intestines and vitamin D is produced with the help of ultraviolet radiation on the skin.
Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins can be remembered with the mnemonic ADEK, for vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These vitamins accumulate within the fat stores of the body and within the liver. Fat-soluble vitamins are often associated with toxicity when taken in large amounts. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and the B vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins taken in excess are excreted in the urine and are not usually associated with toxicity. Both vitamin C and the B vitamins are also stored in the liver.
The human body is known to need at least 13 different vitamins:
- Vitamin A (fat soluble) - Retinol; comes from beta-carotene in plants (When you eat beta-carotene, an enzyme in the stomach turns it into Vitamin A.)
- Vitamin B (water soluble):
- B1 - Thiamine
- B2 - Riboflavin
- B3 - Niacin
- B6 - Pyridoxine
- B12 - Cyanocobalamin
- Folic acid
- Vitamin C (water soluble) - Ascorbic acid
- Vitamin D (fat soluble) - Calciferol
- Vitamin E (fat soluble) - Tocopherol
- Vitamin K (fat soluble) - Menaquinone
- Pantothenic acid (water soluble)
- Biotin (water soluble)
90 degrees -- What we do not know yet
- There is no evidence to show that 'natural' vitamins are better than synthetic ones.
- There is no proof that Vitamin E has a curative or restorative effect.
Myth: Organic vitamins (from nature: food, etc.) are better than synthetic ones.
Fact: The body cannot tell the difference between organic or synthetic vitamins. However, the food that the organic vitamins come from can give you fibre and other nutrients that synthetic vitamins cannot.
Myth: The more vitamins you take, the better for you.
Fact: Certain vitamins taken in large amounts can be harmful to you. (Read our Warning section under each vitramin.)
Myth: By taking vitamins regularly, we don't need to exercise.
Fact: That's a lazy person's excuse. In fact, a daily 30 minute quick walk will do more for you than taking supplements, especially if you have high-blood pressure, or a heart conditon, or overweight.
Myth: If vitamins and supplements are taken, then you can eat whatever you want.
Fact: Pills do not provide all the food components that a healthy body requires, they are supplements dealing with deficiency. Nothing replaces a healthy diet.
Myth: Supplements are safe otherwise they would not be on the market.
Fact: There is no official pre-market approval of supplements.(vitamins, minerals, herbal supplements). The FDA does not limit the concentration or quantity of nutrients in a pill (exception: folacin).
Myth: Taking vitamins is the best way to ensure health for us and our children.
Fact:: The body actually has limited storage for these nutrients and supplements. A lot of these are excreted from our bodies. The best way is to do regular exercise and eat a wide variety of food based on their nutritional values.
Myth: Herbal supplements cannot be harmful because they are natural .
Fact: Some naturally obtained substances can be deadly or very harmful to the body, such as Arsenic and fungus. Correct dosage is the key. Overdose on some supplements can cause damage to our health, some even permanent.
Myth: We can eat very little food if we take vitamins.
Fact: Vitamins do not function without the energy generated from food such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The best way is to eat a variety of food that can both give us energy and supply the vitamins naturally, then vitamins and mineral pills only act as additional supplements that our bodies require to compensate the deficiencies.
Myth: Vitamins are best taken on empty stomach for maximum absorption.
Fact: All supplements are best taken during meals or with food. Small amounts with several meals are better than a large dosage at one time. Fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,&K)are best absorbed if there is fat present. Also, taking supplements with meals will help us get into the habit of taking them more regularly.
- It is not necessary to take vitamins if you are taking a birth control pill.
- Vitamin A cannot control or prevent acne except in very high dosages that could have toxic side effects.
- Vitamin B12 does not stimulate appetite. However, studies have shown that B12 when injected had a placebo effect giving subjects of the experiment a sense of well-being and lifting their mood.
- Vitamin B6 can help to alleviate nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.
- Vitamins do not provide energy directly. They work behind the scenes to break down food into energy.
- The average person who eats a well-balanced diet does not require vitamin supplements.
- Cracked nails do not signify vitamin deficiency. A fungal infection to the nail or trauma to the base of the nail probably is a more likely cause.
- Gordon; Dr Jerry. How Vitamin C Works
- What are vitamins and how do they work?
- Reference Guide for VITAMINS
- Vitamin Deficiency
- Facts and Myths About Vitamins
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